Dear Crabby,

So I’m at Starbucks and pretty much broke because it’s a couple days till payday, right? So instead of the grande extra-shot white-chocolate mocha double-whip I really want, when I get to the counter I order a short Pike Place with room.

And the perky Starbuckette hands it to me and says — get this!! — “The customer ahead of you paid for your drink.” What’s up with that? I mean, this nice, anonymous customer-benefactor obviously wanted me to be happy, which means a grande etc., not a stinkin’ short drip.

So here’s my question. Shouldn’t they be required to tell you BEFORE YOU ORDER that your drink’s been paid for? So that you can order the drink you really want?? Or at least get it a size larger than you normally would??? That way nobody would get stuck with a little cup of plain coffee, which they wouldn’t even refill for free, btw.

Thanks, Crabby. I feel better just talking about it.

Sincerely,

Disappointed

Dear Disappointed,

Am I going nuts, here? What in the name of decency do you want me to tell you? Am I supposed to validate your insane feelings of disappointment at having been bought a cup of coffee?

Because, I’ll tell you right now, I ain’t about to do that, sister. You and I live in different worlds. In mine, the only conceivable response to having one’s coffee paid for by an anonymous stranger is delight and gratitude. In your world, which I imagine is overrun with vultures and flesh-eating bacteria, such a gesture is met with irritation because you didn’t know your drink had been paid for — foreknowledge that would have allowed you to milk this kindness for its maximum economic benefit.

Also, before I forget: A grande extra-shot white-chocolate mocha double-whip? Why stop there? Why not ask them to crumble a few Oreos on top? I mean, seriously, that is the most obnoxious coffee order I have ever heard.

OK, back to the main question. I guess I don’t know why the barista (refusing to validate your use of “Starbuckette”), didn’t tell you up front. Maybe because she figured you would be delighted rather than irritated. Maybe because she figured you would order the same thing either way. Maybe because she figured only a terrible person would take advantage of another’s raw kindness by immediately ordering something more expensive.

I’m glad that you feel better just talking about it. I hope that’s because actually writing it out gave you some perspective and made you consider just how fortunate you are to live in a world in which strangers sometimes buy you coffee out of the blue. But I suspect you feel better because there’s only so much bile a person can contain, and you’ve finally overflowed with it in the form of your letter, thereby relieving the pressure.

Ugh.

Sincerely,

Crabby